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Archives News, November 2008

Utah State Archives posts bills files from the Utah House of Representatives

Representing almost 100 years of lawmaking work by the Utah State House of Representatives, the early working bills files that are a key part of the legislation process have been posted online by the Utah State Archives and Records Service.

The House of Representatives’ Working bills files, 1896-1989, are the newest addition to the Utah State Archives’ digital collections. Available at http://archives.utah.gov/digital/432.htm, the collection includes nearly 150,000 images covering 63 biennial, annual, and special sessions since statehood. In conjunction with bills files since 1990 that have been put online by the Legislature, researchers and others interested in tracing a bill’s history can now access a complete record online from anywhere at anytime.

Bills, in the broad sense, refer to bills, resolutions, memorials, etc. In the narrow sense, bills consist of those documents which a member of the Legislature desires to have made into a Utah law. A bill normally consists of at least its designated number, a title, an enacting clause, and the main text. Sponsor name(s) appear on the face of the bill. House bills are introduced on the floor of the House and go through three readings before passage. In the process they are referred to one or more committees. The committee reports back with the recommendation that the bill be passed, amended, or rejected. A bill may also be amended on the floor at certain stages. If the bill passes the House after a third reading, it goes to the Senate where it goes through a similar procedure before returning to the House for acceptance of any amendments and is sent to the governor. All these actions, with the dates taken, are logged on the back of the bill.

The Archives first prepared the original paper records for microfilming, and then began scanning the microfilm as soon as it was inspected. The first images went online January 4, 2008, and the remainder followed throughout the year. After scanning, images were organized to the folder level by Archives staff.

"Uniquely this time, we experimented with completing multiple parts of the process one after another for the most efficiency and fastest turnaround," said GinaStrack, digital coordinator for the Utah State Archives. It is hoped to continue using such a process for future projects, such as the Senate Working bills, which are still being microfilmed.

It may be interesting to note that in comparable times of economic difficulties, the Legislature passed a concurrent “memorial” petitioning the United State Government to initiate money and credit stabilization after previous efforts had “failed or proved inadequate” (H.C.M. 1, 1933). In 1927, county commissioners were directed to erect and maintain memorials to the memory of veterans of wars of the United States (H.B. 52). In a final note of relevance, the Archives and Records Service itself was created by H.B. 314 in 1969, “providing for the centralized management of [the State’s] records” and creating the State Records Committee. Many more examples can be found of how the House of Representatives and the Legislature at large have affected the history of Utah.

This page was last updated August 18, 2010.